The Alfresco Email Document Action project provides an Alfresco repository and Alfresco share module to add an option to the document library action menu to email documents straight from share. We make use of Alfresco internally and this small Alfresco development and customisation was done to ease our own workflow practice for our sales team.
- Alfresco Email Documents Case Study
- Alfresco Email Documents Solution
Our sales team gets a lot of queries about our training courses and various products and solutions we provide. These are request for additional information or simply a document which confirms what is already on our web site. In most cases this is to allow the requester to take the information with them to a management meeting or to provide to procurement for consideration.
Automate Emailing of PDF Sales Documents
Given the high volume of these inquires to our sales team size we have standard documents we send out based the query received. We use Alfresco to version control these documents to ensure old versions with the wrong pricing or course objects, service product specification changes aren't sent out.
We still had a problem though as the version in Alfresco where in open document format for editing while we send our PDF copies of the documents. This would require the sales team to download the document, convert it themselves to pdf, and then send it via email. This resulted in incorrect versions being sent out, since sales staff would simply send the latest one they had converted and not check for the latest version.
Benefits of Alfresco Automation
It also was a huge waste of time with sales staff having to draft the same email over and over again, often leaving out information, or failing to make use of the optimal wording for the mail. It also meant that other sales team members had no insight into the correspondence if the sales person was away on leave for example, and the correspondence was not sent through the leads tracking system. Our lead tracking system handles inquires initiated via a customer's email quite well. Its not so great for phone call based inquires; but that is a development task for another day :)
Alfresco Configuration versus Customisation
We could have setup a rule to convert the document to PDF and store it in a separate folder as a solution and then expose this as a file share but we are a Linux shop and the SMB share functionality of Alfresco doesn't work with LDAP authentication when not on windows. In addition this still left the problem of users having to draft emails and the lack of visibility on correspondence via other team members.
We wanted a solution which would enable sales team members to:
- Email straight from Alfresco Share,
- Automatically convert the document to PDF,
- Allow for the sending of individual documents or all the documents in a folder,
- Provide standard wording based on each document/folder,
- Enable this functionality only on specified documents and folders to prevent accidental leakage,
- Record the event for latter follow up
To accomplish this we implemented a
- Repository tier action -custom action on the repository tier that would convert a document to PDF, record the details in a data list item and then send the document to the recipient.
- Share Document Library Extension - Front-end customisations to share.
The modules are AMP (Alfresco Module Package) packages and need to be installed using the alfresco module management tool. The current version can be downloaded here:
Version 1.0 - Alfresco V4.2
Once both modules have been deployed follow the steps below to use the new action.
- Select a folder while browsing a sites document library. Click the more menu item from the menu that appears on the right hand side of the library browser while hovering over the folder with your mouse. Then select the "Manage Aspects" item. If you wish to enable the actions for a document item and not a folder then you will need to click on the document title to get to the expanded actions menu for the document. The "Manage Aspects" menu item will then be available, it the last one on the pop-up list below.
- In the "Aspects for Reports" dialog box find the "Enable email document action"or the "Enable email document action with history". The list is not sorted alphabetically so you will need to scroll to find the options. The "Emailed" option is not the one to use for this module. The difference between the two options is the one will make a record of each email sent. The other will simply send the mail and not record the event. You can enable both options for a folder or item. You should now have a menu item "Email Docs" and/or "Email Docs & Record" under the document library action menu items.
- Optional: If you wish to define a standard template for the mail then you must add the "Email Template" aspect to the folder/item. This will enable meta data properties for the from, subject and body text for all future emails. This text can be overridden at the time the email is sent. (This has been enabled in the screen shot above.). The screen shot below shows you the items added to the meta data properties for the email template.
- If you have enabled the "Enable mail document action with history" all emails are recorded under a data list called "Email Archive". If you have not enabled data list for your site then add the "Site Page" from the "Customize Site" menu item available from your site's dashboard page